TRENTON – The Senate Environment and Energy Committee will host a hearing on a package of more than 20 bills promoting the use of electric, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles on Thursday, Sept. 20.
“With the nation’s third highest commuter times, New Jerseyans spend a lot of time in their cars, much to the detriment of our state’s air quality, the health of our citizens and the environment,” said state Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex and Somerset) chairman of the Environment Committee and author of numerous bills included in the package. “As technology continues to advance and we have the ability to fuel our cars with natural gas, electricity and even fuel cells rather than with gasoline, it is important that the Legislature revisits ways to encourage consumers to switch to these alternative fuel vehicles.”
The bipartisan bills range from providing tax incentives for residents who purchase alternative fuel vehicles to addressing infrastructure needs such as the installation of public electric and compressed natural gas fueling stations throughout the state. The package includes bills to encourage the state, localities and school districts to purchase alternative fuel cars and school buses and a bill to promote community college training programs on car conversion.
According to the US Department of Energy, as of Aug. 31, New Jersey ranks 26th in the nation in the number of both public and private alternative-fuel pumps installed, with 48 public electric charging stations and 5 public compressed natural gas stations.
Smith noted that the goal of Thursday’s Committee hearing is to hear testimony on the bill package, to narrow the list of bills to be reviewed during an October session of the Environment and Energy Committee and to vote on the package at a later committee hearing.
While most of the bill package will be for discussion only, the committee is scheduled to vote on S-2196, that would establish a Clean Car Commission to review the state’s implementation of the California Low Emission Vehicle program and to suggest incentives to encourage the purchase of and the infrastructure needs for low and zero emission vehicles. Smith noted that without strictly reviewing and enforcing our state’s emission standards and without incentives for New Jersey residents to purchase low and zero emission vehicles, the state will continue to have unhealthy air quality, creating a risk to the health and well-being of future generations.